From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"Gerrymandering is a practice of political corruption that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected, and neutral districts."
To maximize the effect of supporters' votes and to minimize the effect of opponents' votes, two strategies of gerrymandering employed are packing and cracking. In packing, voters of one type are corralled into a large electoral ward to reduce their influence in other wards. In cracking, voters of the other type are spread out in order to deny them a sufficiently large voting block in any particular ward. The incumbents in Singapore are using cracking to maximum effect, roping supporters into friendly territory, and hiving off pockets of opposition to weaken their cultivated base.
That's the theory anyway. The ugly practice is best illustrated in the Aljunied GRC, where Foreign Minister George Yeo had a close shave of just 12.2 percent from the Workers' Party team led by WP chairman Sylvia Lim in the last general elections (GE). 5,614 voters suspected of voting for the wrong party have been lobbed from Aljunied and consigned to Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC. For addition insurance, 19,549 voters have been added from PAP "stronghold" Marine Parade GRC. Another opposition party has already lamented aloud that all their targeted SMCs have been redrawn into GRCs, and one targetted GRC has been “cut into pieces”. You can't get any more explicit than that.
All the changes by the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee, the composition of which is a guarded secret, are supposedly done to reflect population shifts and housing developments. The total number of constituencies has gone up from 23 to 27, the significant figure being the number of 12 single-seat wards. This pales in comparison to the 21 SMCs up for grabs during the 1991 GE, when the opposition scored its biggest win of 4 single seats. To make sure that never ever happens again, the number of SMCs was slashed to 9 in the following GE of 1997. Now that's kiasuism for you.
Makes you wonder why the opposition bother with the skewed playing field. Before Mubarak caved in, Time magazine wrote that the Egyptians lacked a charismatic, reassuring figure among the protesters. Without a Corazon Aquino or a Václav Havel to rally the masses, the people's will has no punch. The incumbents however, still have their symbolic relic on call. Whether wheel-chaired up a ramp, or hoisted by fork lift to the stage, you bet Lee Kuan Yew will be put on display. And should faltering vocal cords fail him, they'll probably attempt lip sync with past speeches of past glories. The wayang season is officially on, but tuning to American Idol is less aggravating. There the people get to vote, and their votes count.